Frank Anthony Donze

Frank Anthony Donze passed away at the age of 64. He was was married for 27 years to his best friend and devoted companion Elizabeth “Beth” Finney Donze. Mr. Donze is survived by two beloved daughters, Caroline Elizabeth Donze and Victoria Grace Donze. Mr. Donze was born on October 17, 1954 at Mercy Hospital in New Orleans, the eldest child of the late Giacinto “Cinto” Donze and Angelina Cannizzaro Donze (now Cardarella). He was preceded in death by his parents-in-law, Doris Young Finney and Peter P. Finney Sr., who loved Frank like their own son. Survivors include two brothers, Dino M. Donze (Kathleen) and David Donze (Hollie); a sister, Lisa D. Jacob (Tommy); sisters-in-law Barbara F. Weilbaecher (Peter) and Jane F. Haas (Ted); brothersin- law Peter P. Finney Jr. (Carolyn), Dr. Timothy P. Finney (Gina) and Michael D. Finney (Janet); his stepfather, Jack Cardarella; and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. Mr. Donze grew up a block from the river on Lesseps Street, part of a close-knit Bywater neighborhood brought together by a love for life, all things New Orleans and athletics at Stallings Playground and Mickey Markey Park. After attending St. Ann and St. Cecilia elementary schools, he attended Holy Cross High, graduating in 1972. Mr. Donze earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism from LSU, where he was sports editor of The Daily Reveille and gravitated toward feature stories on visiting musical groups and authors, including his favorite writer, Harlan Ellison. He joined the staff of the Times-Picayune in 1977. In 1980, he began three years as a staff writer for the St. Bernard/Plaquemines Bureau, where he covered the federal corruption trials of St. Bernard Parish sheriff ’s deputies and the downfall of the Perez family political dynasty. The bulk of Mr. Donze’s revered newspaper career (1984–2012) was spent as a City Hall reporter, covering the City Council and five mayoral administrations. Mr. Donze pioneered the political roundup column “City Hall Notes,” a mainstay of the Saturday Metro section for nearly three decades. His journalistic oversight included covering political races, monitoring government agencies and documenting the advent of the local gambling industry. After Hurricane Katrina, firmly believing that the work of journalists was vital to the comeback of his beloved hometown, he chronicled the recovery of City Park, the Saenger Theater and Lakefront Airport, and continually looked for stories that off ered glimmers of the city’s renaissance. Part of the sweeping staff layoff s at the Times-Picayune in 2012, Mr. Donze made a seamless and happy transition to his “second act” as a communications specialist and media relations coordinator at the Audubon Institute. He called on many of the skills he had honed as a reporter, bringing his trademark kindness, friendliness, enthusiasm and strong work ethic to his new role. He would say he had the best “office” in the world because much of his time was spent outdoors on Audubon properties facilitating media visits and picking the brains of animal caretakers. He also was a liaison for productions filming on Audubon properties, delighting in the opportunity to assist film crews and Audubon staff . Mr. Donze loved his friends, a wide assortment of current and former New Orleanians who loved him back with a passion. From his porch-friendly home base in Faubourg St. John, he was steps away from Jazz Fest, City Park and great restaurants. He also loved to travel with his family, taking his “three girls” to the great American cities, MLB parks, the beach, the mountains, Canada and Great Britain. Mr. Donze was a board member of the New Orleans Press Club (1985-86); script chairman of the Gridiron Show (1984–87); and a guest lecturer at Loyola’s Institute of Politics (1990–2018). He was a proud member of the news team that received a 2006 Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial was celebrated Saturday, November 10, 2018 at St. Pius X Catholic Church, 6666 Spanish Fort Blvd., New Orleans. Mr. Donze’s nephew, Rev. Peter Finney III, was the principal celebrant. Burial followed at All Saints Mausoleum. The Donze family expresses its sincere gratitude to all those who have posted such beautiful tributes and who have loved Frank throughout the years. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Hotel Hope (, a transitional residence that helps homeless mothers and their children find permanent housing and employment. The family invites you to share your thoughts, fond memories and condolences online at

Plaquemines Gazette

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